The Stalest Repetition

There was a time when reading newspapers was a central part of my day. In the morning I read the Guardian, on my way home I picked up the Evening Standard. I read nonchalantly, nibbling away at whatever articles looked inviting, more drawn to news of dastardly crimes than the articles on business or politics. I ignored the sports and celebrity pages. Then one day I didn’t buy that morning paper, can’t recall when or why. You get to the point where it all starts to repeat itself, the names and places change, but the framework remains the same. Someone gets stabbed, some vacuous politician is caught stealing, some fresh evidence of man’s essential hideousness, what Thoreau in Life Without Principle calls “the stalest repetition,” adding, “I would not run around a corner to see the world blow up.” “Read not the Times. Read the Eternities,” is the summa of Thoreau’s essay.

Today I am at one of those critical junctures in my life, which is why I find myself rereading Thoreau’s essay, where he says, “I wish to suggest that a man may be very in­dus­tri­ous, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blun­der­er than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living.” I am giving much thought to how to spend the rest of my time well.

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